Caribbean Christmas Recipes from Khalid Mohammed

Chef Khalid Mohammed’s Caribbean Christmas spread recipes

  • Illustration by Shalini Seereeram
  • Illustration by Shalini Seereeram
  • Illustration by Shalini Seereeram

Last July, the Caribbean’s best chefs and bartenders gathered in Miami for the Caribbean Hotel Associations’s “Taste of the Caribbean” culinary competition, the region’s only inter-island cooking contest. Each national team was given a “mystery basket” from which to create and prepare a full menu. The chefs of the top four teams then had a cook-up to determine the individual Chef of the Year, again from a mystery basket. Bartenders mixed cocktails to determine the Bartender of the Year. The main results were:

The Caribbean Chef of the Year 1999: Martin Maginlay, SuperClubs Grand Lido in Negril, Jamaica

Caribbean Pastry Chef of the Year: Linval Green, SuperClubs Sans Souci Lido, Ocho Rios, Jamaica

Caribbean Bartender of the Year: Ron Webster, Restaurant Ici, Sonesta Resort, Anguilla

Highest scoring culinary team: Curaçao

Team Gold Medals (a score between 91 and 100): Curaçao; Bahamas; Jamaica; Trinidad and Tobago.

Caribbean Beat asked Khalid Mohammed, one of the stars of the Trinidad and Tobago gold medal-winning team, to create a menu for Christmas which reflected Caribbean tradition and innovation. Mohammed, of the Lighthouse Restaurant, Crews Inn Marina, Chaguaramas, won a silver medal in the Individual Chef competition for a menu of Chilli-dusted Tilapia (a freshwater fish), Seared Duck Breast with a Caramelised Orange Sauce, and Beets with a Roasted Corn Purée, with fried plantains for a garnish. His Christmas menu is traditionally Caribbean with international influences designed to “notch it up a little.”

Khalid Mohammed’s Caribbean Christmas Spread

• Side salad of purple cabbage slaw with toasted slivered almonds, rum-soaked raisins, and orange segments dressed with citrus sour cream dressing

• Honey- and cinnamon-basted, roasted turkey with cornbread and mushroom stuffing and sorrel conserve

• Caribbean spices and brown sugar-glazed ham

• Garlic-studded, baked whole Red Snapper with piquant creole sauce

• Wild rice pilaf with dried fruit and pecans, cooked in coconut milk

• Cheesy breadfruit gratin

• Roasted herbed pumpkin and beetroot, drenched in garlic butter

• Beef pastelles

• Traditional black fruit cake

• Warm fruit cobbler with an oat and nut crumble topping, served with fresh whipped cream

Side salad of purple cabbage slaw with toasted slivered almonds, rum-soaked raisins, and orange segments dressed with citrus sour cream dressing


1 purple cabbage, shredded
1/2 white cabbage, shredded
2 carrots, grated
1 bunch parsley, chopped


1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup honey
salt and cayenne pepper to taste


1/2 cup raisins, soaked in 1 cup of dark rum
3 oranges, segmented
1/2 cup slivered, toasted almonds

Mix salad ingredients. Add dressing and half the garnish ingredients and toss well. Adjust seasoning. Garnish with reserved oranges, almonds, and raisins.

Honey- and cinnamon-basted, roasted turkey with cornbread and mushroom stuffing and sorrel conserve

1 turkey (about 8 1/2 lbs) with giblets
1/4 cup melted butter


1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup water
3 cinnamon sticks
2 star anise


4 tbsp olive oil
2 small onions, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 sprigs fresh thyme, chopped
3 sprigs fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 cup milk
1/2 lb fresh mushrooms, sliced


1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tbsp melted butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup milk
1 egg

Sorrel Conserve

2 lbs sorrel, cleaned
1 lb white sugar
juice of 1 lime
1 tsp powdered ginger
1/2 tsp five-spice powder
water to cover


Heat oven to 400°F.


Combine corn and cornmeal in a food processor and blend for 30 seconds. Combine the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and add the corn mixture. Combine the butter, cream, milk and egg, and mix; add to the dry ingredients, thoroughly mixing, and beat until smooth. Place in a buttered baking pan and bake for approx. 35 minutes, or until the centre is firm.

Sauté the onion and garlic in olive oil until softened; add the giblets and mushrooms and cook until nicely browned. Crumble the cornbread and add the mushroom mixture, the chopped herbs, and moisten with milk.


Place all baste ingredients in a sauce pan; boil until slightly thickened. Preheat oven to 350°F. Season the cavity of the bird and fill with stuffing mixture. Truss the turkey by tying the legs together. Place in a heavy-bottomed roasting pan and rub the turkey skin with butter. Bake for 1 hour; then baste with honey mixture every 20 mins of the last hour and a half of cooking.

Sorrel Conserve

Put all the ingredients in a heavy saucepan and simmer until the mixture turns thick about an hour. Cool.

Caribbean spices and brown sugar-glazed ham

1 pre-cooked ham


1 tsp allspice powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp cardamom powder
1 tsp ginger powder
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup corn syrup
1/4 cup water

Pre-heat oven to 400°F. Meanwhile, place all the glaze ingredients in a saucepan and bring to the boil; simmer for 5 minutes and cool. Place ham in a roasting pan and bake for 40 minutes, basting the ham every 8 minutes.

Garlic-studded, baked whole red snapper with piquant creole sauce

1 red snapper (10-12lb), scaled and gutted
1 cup white wine, or fish stock

Combine and mince the following:

5 cloves garlic, halved
2 scallions
3 pimentos
Scotch bonnet hot pepper, according to taste
1 bunch celery
1 bunch thyme
1 bunch parsley
1/2 bunch shadon beni (cilantro can be substituted)
3 oz fresh ginger
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup olive oil

Creole sauce

1/4 cup olive oil
3 diced onions
4 chopped pimentos
3 chopped green bell peppers
2 chopped red bell peppers
3 chopped cloves garlic
1 cup white wine
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 10-oz can of good quality canned plum tomatoes
2 bay leaves

Make incisions with a paring knife — 5 on each side of the fish; insert a piece of garlic in each incision. Season the cavity well with salt, and rub the minced ingredients all over the fish; marinate for 1 hour. Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Pour the white wine into the roasting pan and place fish in it. Bake for 10 minutes, then 5 minutes per lb.

Creole Sauce

In a saucepan, heat oil and add the onions and garlic; sauté until softened. Add pimento and bell peppers; sauté for 5 minutes. Add white wine and reduce by half; add remaining ingredients and simmer for 20 minutes; season with salt and cayenne pepper.

Wild rice pilaf with dried fruit and pecans, cooked in coconut milk

1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup wild rice
1 cup parboiled rice
4 1/2 cups water
2 cups coconut milk
2 onions, diced
2 bay leaves
3 sprigs thyme
1 bunch parsley, chopped
2 red bell peppers, diced
1/2 cup diced dried fruit, e.g. apricots, raisins, bananas, pineapple, apples, prunes
1/2 cup pecans

Cook wild rice in water until grain splits; drain. In a sauce pan, sauté onions in butter; add parboiled rice and stir until fragrant. Add thyme, bay leaves, and coconut milk; bring to the boil. Add bell peppers; cover with tight-fitting lid and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until rice is cooked. Mix in the wild rice, dried fruit, pecans, and parsley; correct seasoning if necessary. Garnish with extra fruit and nuts.

Cheesy breadfruit gratin

2 breadfruit, skinned and sliced paper-thin
4 cups milk
1 head of garlic
2 sprigs of thyme
2 bay leaves
1 onion, sliced
salt to taste
2 1/2 cups cheddar cheese
1/4 cup melted butter

Bring 2 cups milk and water (enough to cover the breadfruit) to the boil; add salt and breadfruit and blanch until 80% cooked; strain and cool. Take remaining 2 cups milk and add the rest of the ingredients — except the cheese — and simmer for 1 hour; strain. Butter a casserole dish large enough to hold the breadfruit; layer the breadfruit in the casserole, alternating each layer with a little cheese until 2 inches high. Pour seasoned milk to 3/4 way up the gratin; bake in the a 350°F oven until golden brown.

Roasted herbed pumpkin and beetroot, drenched in garlic butter

5 lbs pumpkin, cut into large chunks
5 whole beetroots, washed
1/4 cup oil
Herb garlic butter
1/2 lb butter
chopped parsley, shadon beni, scallion, and thyme, to make 1/2 cup in total
4 cloves garlic, minced

Fold ingredients into the softened butter

Toss pumpkin and beetroot separately in oil; roast separately in 350°F oven until cooked. Peel beetroot, cut to same size as pumpkin; toss together in herb, garlic butter.

Beef pastelles

Originating in Venezuela, this dish is a Christmas tradition in Trinidad

3 lbs minced beef
salt to taste
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 head garlic, minced
3 onions, minced
3 bunches scallions, minced
1 West Indian seasoning pepper (pimento); hot pepper if desired, minced
3 sweet bell peppers, minced
1 bunch thyme, minced
1 cup chopped green olives
1 cup raisins
1/3 cup capers
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 lbs cornmeal
7 cups warm water
1/4 lb margarine
banana leaves
1 tbsp sugar

In large sauté pan, cook seasonings: garlic, onion, scallions, peppers, thyme. Add minced beef, salt, black pepper; cook until well-browned. Turn off heat; add capers, olives, raisins. Warm 7 cups of water; add margarine and season with salt to taste; add sugar and mix with the cornmeal in a large bowl; let sit for 15 minutes. Make 45 balls with the mixture. On the banana leaves, flatten out the cornmeal balls and fill with meat mixture; fold into a pillowcase shape and wrap inside banana leaf (cut to size). Tie the ends of the leaves with string; steam for 30-40 minutes.

Traditional black fruit cake

1 lb butter
1 lb sugar
1 lb prunes, minced
1 lb raisins, minced
1/4 lb mixed peel, minced
2 cups walnuts, chopped
1 bottle rum
1 bottle cherry brandy
3 tsp baking powder
1 lb flour
1 doz medium eggs, beaten
1 lb currents, minced
1/2 lb dates
1/2 lb red and green cherries, chopped and stoned
1/2 cup browning
3 tsp vanilla essence
2 tsp mixed spices (cinnamon, nutmeg)

Soak prunes, raisins, mixed peel, currents, dates, chopped cherries, in rum and cherry brandy for a week or longer. Cream butter and sugar; add eggs, then flour and baking powder; mix thoroughly. Add fruit mixture, walnuts, browning, vanilla, mixed spices. Grease and flour cake pan (lined with greased-proof paper); fill pans 3/4 full and bake in slow oven (300°F) for about 1 1/2-2 hours, or until done.

Warm fruit cobbler with an oat and nut crumble topping, served with fresh whipped cream

4 eating apples
3 ripe mangoes
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp lime juice


2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup oats
1/2 tsp cardamom powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
6 tbsp chilled butter cubes

Preheat oven to 400°F. Core, peel, and slice apples and mangoes; toss with brown sugar and lime juice, and place in oven-proof baking dish.


Combine brown sugar, flour, oats and spices; blend in a food processor. Pulse/combine in the butter cubes. (Dough should look like lumpy cookie-type dough.) Chill. Spoon the topping mixture over the apples and mangoes. Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until fruit is tender and topping is crisp and brown. Serve with freshly whipped cream.

Funding provided by the 11th EDF Regional Private Sector Development Programme Direct Support Grants Programme.
The views expressed on this website are those of the the authors and do not reflect those of the Direct Support Grants Programme.